In the Forrester/InfoWorld Enterprise Architecture (EA) Awards competition, we look for the most dramatic stories of EA’s strategic leadership and concrete business impact. The winners of the 2020 Forrester/InfoWorld Enterprise Architecture Awards show the value of a close relationship with the business, a solid vision for enabling digital transformation, and effective governance practices — not to mention the need for a high-priority response to a global pandemic!
In alphabetical order, the winners this year are the EA teams of:
- CSL Behring
- Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health
- Sun Life
- Verizon Communications
Congrats to all the winners — each has a compelling story of EA best practices. You can read those stories below.
How do we pick the winners? Forrester’s EA analysts performed the first round of vetting, then the 2019 Enterprise Architecture Award winners acted as final judges and voted for the teams they believed had the most impactful EA story.
When CSL Behring embarked on its digital transformation journey, its business technology division was faced with the adoption of modern technology platforms to drive efficiencies and innovation. CSLB’s EA team tackled this challenge by reinventing the architecture function through the following four pillars:
1. Transforming its EA function, which emphasized the interaction with internal customer areas across the value chain. A new head of EA was appointed, and the lean EA team was restructured to have a dedicated architect for each of its key areas (R&D, manufacturing, and commercial and global support functions). This allowed the team to build trust with its business partners and stakeholders, document business capabilities, facilitate design-thinking sessions, capture customer journey maps, and translate the desired business outcomes into technology strategies and standards. The assets created by the EA team have accelerated decision-making for the business at least twice over, while identifying 10-plus opportunities for technology consolidation for leaders.
2. Adopting modern technology platforms and application architecture. The EA team played a key role in understanding modern/emerging technology platforms, analyzing the applicability of these technologies to business needs, and defining standards and playbooks for implementation. In the last 12 months, the EA team has also launched the following centers of excellence (CoE) in collaboration with cross-functional execution teams: a robotics process automation (RPA) CoE and an enterprise integration platform CoE.
The EA team also analyzed opportunities to consolidate systems with similar functional scope, modernize legacy systems and application architectures wherever feasible, and leverage public cloud offerings through a cloud-first, multicloud, and hybrid-cloud strategy. The RPA CoE was launched in mid-2019 and has realized a projected annual savings of 20,000-plus hours/year (approximately 10 FTEs) over 12 months since its launch.
The EA team introduced an enterprise integration platform to CSL, based on the business and technology needs of the firm, and selected MuleSoft as a technical standard based on its track record of 445% ROI (as per Forrester’s Total Economic Impact™ [TEI] studies). Furthermore, a split company architecture was proposed between CSL Behring and sister company Seqirus, which lead to joint savings of the order of $1 million-plus to date.
Last but not the least, the EA team proposed a comprehensive multicloud and hybrid cloud computing strategy and selected appropriate cloud vendor partners to enable rapid innovation for business needs that promises approximately 20% operational savings by transitioning out of its on-premises data center.
3. Enhancing the governance framework. Within the CSL Behring business technology function, the transformed EA team was responsible for operationalizing a strategic governance framework and establishing an enterprise technology council. The governance mechanism has reviewed and approved over 25 enterprisewide technology strategies and standards to date and provides input toward portfolio rationalization. Well-defined governance across the technology lifecycle ensures adherence to the technology strategies and standards identified, which, in turn, leads to operational efficiencies. To date, an estimated rationalization of approximately $50 million has occurred.
4. Talent up-skilling of solution architects and deployment teams. Last but not the least, the EA team also provided technology training and day-to-day support to cross-functional deployment teams and solution architects to mature current-state to future-state. The EA team organized numerous vendor workshops for cross-functional architects and launched a Vendor Technology Strategic Forum, where vendors such as Amazon Web Services, AT&T, Cisco, Microsoft, MuleSoft, and SAP share their product/solution roadmaps with CSLB’s Architecture Community of Practice. In addition, the head of EA also helped organize a design thinking workshop at the Microsoft Technology Center for all EA, operational excellence, and enterprise applications teams so that IT team members can empathize better with their business customers and deliver a better user experience/customer experience (UX/CX) throughout their solutions. Talent up-skilling across its Architecture Community of Practice ensures better support for the modern/emerging tech platforms and has increased its Net Promoter Score (NPS) for the EA function by 2 points (as measured through surveys).
In addition to the above, during COVID-19, the EA team led an IT pandemic taskforce, as chartered by the CIO, and ensured the following business outcomes: remote working for all employees and business continuity for all IT areas. The EA team aligned on IT scope and focus, defined three workstreams to ensure all business outcomes, identified a cross-functional IT taskforce, highlighted open gaps, and cocreated mitigation plans. A total of 24 enterprise risks were identified across the three workstreams, which were then categorized into areas of low/medium/high impact versus probability. These were methodically mitigated along with the cross-functional taskforce.
The three workstreams were:
- Work from home (WFH): focusing on lead measures such as network capacity, VPN capacity, Citrix requirements, and service desk capacity.
- Business continuity: focusing on critical applications that needed to be supported during this situation, including its data center operations.
- Communications: allowing the taskforce to publish meaningful guides, such as a WFH guide, teams collaboration platform guide, and cybersecurity guide.
Thanks to the cross-functional efforts, there were no major disruptions to any of CSL’s IT services.
Tobias Verbist, chief enterprise architecture and innovation for Digipolis in Antwerp, said, “This is an excellent example of value-added EA, by defining and executing a clear EA 2.0 strategy.” Kevin Tracy, manager, architecture management office and CoE at Ford Motor Company, added, “Nice that CSL Behring is thinking about the future by continuing to invest in their talent.”
Thomas Jefferson University And Jefferson Health
Jefferson is a healthcare and academic institution in the Philadelphia region. The organization’s clinical pillar, Jefferson Health, includes 14 hospitals and ambulatory clinics, while the academic pillar, Thomas Jefferson University, comprises 10 colleges and three schools in many disciplines. Over a three-year period, mushrooming growth added 11 hospitals and a second university to the system. The multiple mergers prompted scripting a five-year plan to develop a new business model to support a 300% growth model. They operated in three phases:
Phase 1: Transform and align the enterprise. The EA team established a new foundational model of “One Jefferson,” which shaped every step of the journey. Central governance with distributed support enabled leadership to leverage its pool of talent and expertise. EA developed a technology framework and digital transformation roadmap to align business strategy to the appropriate technology. Phase I included Jefferson Health adopting an enterprise application portfolio, which began with choosing a new electronic health record (EHR) system as its cornerstone. The EA team began to work directly with business stakeholders to develop a detailed plan to consolidate disparate systems across the enterprise, effectively transforming the role of enterprise architects from solution providers to trusted advisors. It developed capability maps that enabled foundational models to support both the new EHR and future enterprise applications.
The EA team then designed initiatives to support the execution of its plans. It implemented a system of enterprise standards to provide a consistent, flexible, and redundant infrastructure comprising storage, server/desktop virtualization, and core networking. By the end of Phase I, the new EHR was in use across 61 proprietary software applications and nearly five dozen third-party solutions and products. The EHR was also launched at inpatient locations and in the public-facing MyChart portal, which has grown to over 300,000 MyChart registrations and has been instrumental in addressing the COVID-19 challenge in 2020.
Phase 2: Double size and review capabilities. Jefferson’s merger with multiple hospitals, ambulatory clinics, and physician practices in New Jersey created an immediate need to introduce the EHR to new facilities. The EA team continued to work closely with the business to create a capability map, realign the business vision with capabilities, and develop the second phase of the technology roadmap. The EA team once again collaborated with business units and developed an ambitious plan. It engaged 6,000 clinical and operational staff to implement a strategy that replaced five major software systems, standardizing and improving processes across the enterprise. The success of Jefferson’s implementation led the industry-leading EHR vendor Jefferson used to adopt its deployment model as a best practice for multihospital implementations for other customers.
Phase 3 (2020 and beyond): Redefine the IT framework and expand its vision. As expansion continues, the EA team is working closely with its strategic technology partners to develop a next-generation framework. The business and EA teams are now expanding the roadmap, leveraging their enhanced technology portfolio to share their vision and services to a larger, more diverse geographical audience. They have reviewed their technical capabilities, and their virtual desktop infrastructure and firewalls now operate in a more efficient, distributed management model that will enable them to migrate additional facilities to their EHR system.
The onset of COVID-19 presented Jefferson with its greatest challenge and tested the agility of its entire technology system. The healthcare and academic institution needed to transition more than 75% of its employees, faculty, and students to a work-from-home environment. Leaders utilized the institution’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), VPN, and Office 365 capabilities to provide remote capability to 100% of its core applications. VDI has seen an over 500% increase in utilization, and VPN has seen an over 400% increase in connectivity. The EA team has accelerated its new remote application delivery framework to reduce cost and offer a more sustainable access model. The team also met the pandemic challenge with a redesign of its core platforms for telemedicine along with a business investment in network infrastructure and security, providing online care for 3,300 patients a day. Activations on its MyChart patient portal have increased from an average of 2,000 per month to 40,000 in May 2020.
Ford’s Kevin Tracy said: “Jefferson’s EA really shines … great accolade from the vendor to adopt Jefferson’s onboarding process.”
Lexmark creates smart internet-of-things (IoT) print devices and cloud-native solutions that help customers worldwide achieve their vision of print simplicity, security, savings, and sustainability. Lexmark recognized in mid-2018 that to achieve its transformation aspirations, its community of architects needed to come together and transform from technology strategists to an outcome-driven EA organization.
Lexmark’s EA team recognized that it needed to enrich the company’s capabilities portfolio (tools, standards, methods, and governance) to align with more of an “as a service” delivery model and, even more specifically, a “transformation as a service” delivery model. This model required the creation of two digital frameworks: the digital thread and the digital asset.
The “digital thread” is an information framework that Lexmark’s EA team leverages to capture all data associated with the end-to-end lifecycle of its hardware and supplies — from design, through use, to end of life — and deliver it via a business-consumable semantic layer. This framework supports a wide range of descriptive and predictive analytics, enabling use cases that allow the team to “close the loop” (e.g., design for manufacturability) between product design, manufacturing, and field operations functions. The digital thread enables the company’s data-as-a-service and analytics-as-a-service offerings as part of its transformation-as-a-service portfolio.
The “digital asset” is a hybrid architecture framework that the EA team leverages to create Lexmark’s “Enterprise Digital Twin” — a logical model of the people, processes, and technology that comprise its business. The digital asset enables its analytics capabilities to mature from descriptive analysis and predictive insights into prescriptive actions. The digital asset enables its “process-design-as-a-service and intelligent-applications-as-a-service offerings as part of [its] transformation-as-a-service portfolio.” It also enables the company’s ability to architect and design for operations, security, and privacy.
Lexmark’s digital thread is where insights are gained; its digital asset is where leaders architect and design a transformed future state, which operationalizes or monetizes these insights.
Lexmark’s EA team has moved from a proof-of-concept phase through a pilot project transformation phase. It’s now deploying its transformation capabilities portfolio across the extended enterprise and as an integral component of its emerging go-to-market offerings. The EA team has moved with increased speed and improved quality by:
- Retaining intellectual property in a readily reusable format
- Leveraging shared business and technology taxonomies across multiple communities of use (e.g., testing, training, risk management, and compliance management)
- Bridging the gap between insight and action
Lexmark has realized a 25% improvement in time-to-market for IT initiatives and a 30% reduction in defects due to change in the first full year of adoption. These savings mean that it secures a greater return on its IT investment and gets to that return faster, absorbing a higher rate of change with minimal business disruption.
The company has reduced costs by a rigorous and precise process design that has reduced variances and eliminated waste, by identifying more impactful automation and orchestration opportunities. Lexmark has realized a 15% to 20% reduction in the human and technical infrastructure required to manage non-value-added activities, allowing it to reinvest these resources in higher-value activities. The company has also sparked a new wave of innovation by democratizing data across its value chain and by unleashing the analytical potential of its citizen data scientists.
Brett Brunk, APS’s IT enterprise architect, said: “Lexmark pivoted their enterprise architecture practice toward digital transformation with impressive results in quality, time-to-market, and reduced infrastructure. The team’s focus on information flows and a digital twin concept seems well adapted to a hardware manufacturer like Lexmark, where streamlining design to build processes would be important.”
Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth, and asset management solutions to individual and corporate clients. The company established a federated EA practice in 2005, which was transformed seamlessly into a unified organization in 2019 to supercharge and enable a major global transformation across the digital enterprise.
The past three years have proven a transformational time for enterprise architecture at Sun Life. A select number of innovative projects that began as small initiatives over the last three years have produced strong sustainable business value. EA is now recognized as a critical partner to fuel growth and align with Sun Life’s client obsession. Five major wins for enterprise architecture at Sun Life have transformed EA from that of a service provider to being a pivotal catalyst driving business results:
- A major business-outcome-driven architecture modernization program for a critical legacy core administration system, through progressive revitalization, was a huge success. This approach focused on componentization that drove significant business improvements in its sponsor and member new business onboarding process. The program was highly respected by the business executive team, which recognized EA frameworks as the key building block of this success.
- API development has been clearly recognized as a strategic business asset. A global digital enterprise business and technology strategy developed over the last eight months identified API development as one of the core foundational enablers for the future. API development is now seen by the senior executive team as a critical pillar to drive business agility, foster reuse, and empower an always-on, connected, and change-ready organization.
- Sun Life’s COVID-19 global pandemic response lead the industry. The strategic employment of cloud technologies over the last two years had transformed the employee experience by increasing agility. Cloud architecture and design decisions simplified infrastructure complexities while maintaining Sun Life’s security posture and managing network capacity. These decisions made the company ready to seamlessly support a work-from-anywhere environment. Over the weekend following the implementation of government workplace restrictions, the company pivoted to having 95% of its employees working remotely. The EA team checked in directly with its employees through a pulse survey to confirm that they found the transition seamless and continued to do so.
- In line with Sun Life’s cloud-first strategy, a critical program to move its enterprise data lake from an on-premises Hadoop model to a cloud platform as a service (PaaS) on an AWS model using modern object storage has been highly successful and has driven business growth through advanced analytics and machine learning. This program included the use of several AWS PaaS services, such as Glue and SageMaker.
- A Forrester review of Canadian insurers’ web sales ranked Sun Life at the top of the industry — a credible confirmation of the business value being realized from the API- and cloud-focused strategies of EA underpinning these sites.
How did Sun Life achieve these five EA wins and fuel business excitement for EA? The company did it by carefully balancing strategy, execution, and governance. Its new digital enterprise strategy is at the heart of its EA. This strategy embraces APIs, cloud, Agile, DevOps, and automation. Its roadmap was carefully planned to ensure business value could be achieved at each step and that it was advancing on its client journey. A test-and-learn approach integrated learnings through each step. These steps included:
- Assess the current state and the key gaps seen by business leaders.
- Establish a clear mission and vision tightly aligned to the business gaps.
- Establish a clear modernization agenda to consistently deliver on a global scale.
- Develop the best organization and operating model to achieve the goals.
- Develop a governance framework that is right-sized for the organization.
- Communicate, communicate, and communicate.
Tobias Verbist of Antwerp’s Digipolis said, “This is a case of ambitious execution of a clearly defined and mature EA roadmap, positively contributing to the business in every step taken. Being able to achieve business ownership over technology levers shows not only the added value of EA, but also the closed gap between business and IT, which are key advantages for any company’s digital transformation.”
Headquartered in New York City, Verizon Communications offers voice, data, and video services and solutions. On April 1, 2019, the Verizon 2.0 operating model brought in a new era of refocusing efforts around its core network, restructuring customer-facing units, and focusing on 5G and iEN deployment. This underscored the importance of an enterprisewide architecture team and a well-architected systems landscape. In 2020, after the EA team gained maturity and trust across the organization, it evolved its original framework to focus on the following four areas:
- Solution architecture capabilities
- EA governance and enablement
- Emerging technologies
- Data science
1. Solution architecture capabilities to transition to its North Star architecture. Following numerous mergers and acquisitions throughout Verizon’s history, the current systems landscape found itself supporting a diverse set of customers, products, and features. However, this created multiple system stacks with limited integration. In partnership with the business transformation (BT) teams, the EA team embarked on a massive systems transformation strategy toward the North Star that has customer centricity and process simplification at its core, while keeping business continuity. With finite funding as a constraint, a pragmatic prioritization approach was applied with three lenses:
- Market, industry, and financial viability
- Customer, employee, and partner experience
- Technology and architecture alignment with best practices and North Star
2. Governance and enablement. To support and enable the integration of the North Star architecture and to ensure a successful rollout, an “Architecture Governance and Enablement” function was established. The function rolled out several solutions in support of its purpose, including:
- Automated governance: At the foundation of the North Star architecture, there are a set of shared platforms and services that are designed to be leveraged by the entire company (instead of duplicating the capabilities across multiple stacks), while serving multiple business units. These platforms and services have a rich set of APIs for easy integration and data retrieval. By integrating with all the shared platforms and services in the ecosystem, these automated capabilities assess the health of a system/application through static code analysis and dynamic run-time analysis, including detecting patterns and technology anomalies.
- North Star adoption guidance and support: The EA team established small teams proficient with the North Star reference architecture to provide assistance within the scope of development activities in applying the North Star architecture. These teams were deployed on demand based on prioritization in partnership with the delivery teams. They also played a crucial role of providing needed feedback to the EA organization for reference architecture improvements.
- Value realization: A value realization framework and methodology were established to measure EA’s value across the strategy-to-execution value stream through objectives and key results (OKRs) and KPIs. The value realization framework established a “Value Realization Relationship Matrix,” enabling the EA team to align its goals and objectives to the organization’s strategic goals/objectives. A correlation was established between the value realization framework and the EA work management model for value definition, measurements, and reporting.
3. Emerging technologies. To bring in the newest transformative technologies, while at the same time augmenting mainstream areas of focus like customer experience, 5G, identity and security services, and machine learning operations, Verizon EA created a dedicated cross-organizational emerging architecture group that focuses on proof-of-concept and prototyping technologies that serve a two- to three-year horizon. This process starts with a standardized intake process that focuses on the partnership between EA and the lines of business to iterate on a set of testable hypotheses and KPIs as part of a short-term evaluation that lasts six to 12 weeks. Results and findings are then documented and shared with the broader organization. Successful evaluations are incorporated into organizational development roadmaps, influencing future architectural decisions, and are used to assist with future adoption.
This strategy of short-term evaluations has allowed Verizon EA to remain agile in the face of challenges, such as COVID-19. Several existing evaluations were quickly pivoted to adapt to a socially distanced world, such as evaluating various forms of biometrics and augmented reality (AR)/VR technology to assist in creating new experiences in “phygital,” touchless retail and driving toward parity between in-store and in-home customer shopping experiences. Additionally, biometric evaluations needed to be adapted due to current situations, such as customers wearing facemasks, so Verizon is now considering alternative metrics, such as voice fingerprinting and gait analysis. The organization was able to take some of these findings and use them to drive additional value in other parts of the experience by working to synthesize an experience that uses both AR/VR and machine learning to assist with at-home 5G installations.
4. North Star architecture for data platforms, data governance, and data-driven decisioning. Data governance and data science took center stage for the organization in 2020 to support data-driven decisioning that, in turn, yielded NPS improvements. Components of Verizon’s systems of insight (SOI) layer have brought to life a critical capability to inform the next best action during customer interactions via digital channels and assisted channels like call centers and retail stores. This allowed for customer satisfaction and service quality to be improved. Advanced SOI topic and customer DNA modeling facilitated the determination of a customer’s intent, allowing for proactive interactions via real-time decisioning (next best action, next best communication, or next best offer). SOI was also architected to utilize historical and active behavioral data toward identifying actions indicative of fraudulent behavior. The SOI, coupled with rich systems of engagement, contributed toward Verizon’s improvements in its NPS.
Complementing the work in SOI, and in line with Verizon’s commitment to customer privacy and security, the EA team was tasked with providing an underlying framework for data governance and data management that addressed stringent requirements for regulatory compliance and privacy protection. The team embarked on the design of an end-to-end data asset lifecycle management reference architecture and technology evaluation for a governance and model lifecycle management platform.
Tobias Verbist of Antwerp’s Digipolis said, “Very wide span in bringing value-added EA services by executing a companywide EA roadmap. Highly structured approach focusing on important technology levers, change, and agility.” APS’s Brett Brunk added, “I was impressed with the enterprise architecture governance framework that used automation to assess application health and conformance with strategy. This enables individual application teams to understand their conformance to standards.”